There are some people who seem as though they’ve been with us always; maybe not on “Day One” precisely, but here in the spirit of the place before the furniture arrived, waiting to take their seat and do their special work.
Anne Smith is just such a person—an “early arrival” as one of our first volunteers who has been “just right” for this work for more than six years. Anne touches this place with grace, love, and skill. Her experience as a social worker, a career from which she is now retired, is evident in the ease with which she answers the telephone, how unflappably she fields questions from distressed and disoriented guests, and how tenderly and honestly she listens. Anne’s devotion to her large family of seven children, a growing number of grandchildren, and her steadfast partnership with her husband Jeff, have clearly shaped her into a woman who knows that life ebbs and flows. She is not fearful of the navigation. Though Anne’s heart is tender, and she aches for others to be well, she is a strong presence for our guests by showing openness and confidence in their ability to find their way with our assistance.
“Transplant House is such a SPECIAL place!!” Anne says. “I love taking calls every week and gathering information and being able to share with the callers what a special place this is. My favorite part of this work is listening to stories and what brings people here. Every story is so different, yet every family has the same needs—to get the best medical care for their family member and to feel as comfortable as possible during this whole process. As so many of our families say, ‘Transplant House is a home-away-from-home.’ I can’t think of any better tribute than that. I love that families are with other families going through similar things, so they are a support for each other.”
As Anne will attest, we do become attached to our guests. “So many people have touched me personally,” she shares. “I think of all the young people that I have gotten to know with their incredible strength, the devotion between spouses, the mom who made Greek coffee for us, the mom who made beautiful jewelry, the young man recovering from a transplant who spent most of his day hanging around the office, chatting with us, the woman who arrived to check in after spending a month sleeping in the hospital waiting room—when she saw the apartment she broke into tears because it felt so warm and comforting, the two men (former strangers) who became lifelong brothers after one donated a portion of his liver to the other, and the two families from California…” So many poignant stories.
Anne, we are grateful to have you as the first person guests meet upon entering and as one who makes all the difference in helping guests get through this day.